ERADICATING RAPE WITH UNITY
By Bekekile Khuphe and Nomfundo Xolo
President Jacob Zuma recognised in his State of the Nation Address, the national child and women brutality crisis and highlighted how Anene Booysen’s gruesome death was an alerting alarming example needing immediate eradication.
Although this year’s speech seemed indifferent from last year’s, only revised, re-spoken and while South Africa was yet again re-promised to better education, health, a safer country and creation of jobs amongst other promises, many steadily watched and paid critical attention, expecting and anticipating new results as Zuma delivered his annual speech in Parliament, Cape Town on Thursday.
Self-assurance glimmered in his face as his presence overwhelmed Parliament. He came, he spoke but did he deliver?
Reports say that South Africa has one of the highest statistics of rape with one women being raped in every four minutes. Now considering the size of the country, one can imagine the number of women who fall victims per year. Last year, media reports stated that Interpol named South Africa as the world’s rape capital. In 2009, Medical Research Council study found that in every four South African men, one has admitted in raping a woman. Everyday a woman falls a victim of rape or domestic violence. The issue at hand remains as to what South Africa can do to reduce this gruesome kind of behaviour.
Zuma stated on his state of the nation address that gang rape is uncalled for in this country and the government is alert and working on coming up with solutions against this. “The brutal gang rape and murder of Anene Booysen and other women and girls in recent times has brought into sharp focus the need for unity in action to eradicate this scourge”, he said. The incident drew national and international attention about the urgency of child and women brutality in South Africa, and the reference mention of Booysen’s case by the president showed a slightly different direction and digression from the typical State of the Nation speech, acknowledging her ordeal in his address to Parliament in Cape Town. He also pointed out that the government is implementing other mechanisms like the Protection from Harassment Bill to protect women.
Zuma gave thorough attention to the importance of improving the status of women as a critical priority for government and dedicated some time on gender-based violence. “I have directed enforcement agencies to treat these cases with the utmost urgency and importance,” he said.
The question is how can the students who are called to be the future fight against rape and raise awareness within the work sector and their colleagues could be a start.
Faculty of Arts and Design’s Academic Development Practitioner at Durban University of Technology, Haj Vahed-Greer, said that change doesn’t have to start when students go out to work, change has to start now, there is no tomorrow on dealing with this issue. “Change starts now in classrooms, students have to work with colleagues, work with organisations and agencies on campuses to see how they can help spread awareness against rape.”
What the society needs to know is that working together is the best solution to eradicate the scourge of rape. “This is a complex issue that requires all agencies to work together. It is not all about agitating for the lock up of the rapists, there should also be a provision of structure. Hard work should start from all sectors including educational institutions and also parents as well,” said Vahed-Greer.
Students feel much is not being done in terms of justice. They feel rapists should be given a life sentence and first priority care should be given to victims. “Rape is bad, abusive, kills one’s future, dignity and pride,” said Nokwanda Luvuno, a Public Management student from the DUT. “To me the death penalty would be an answer and as students we should engage in awareness campaigns and that way maybe we can witness a change.”
With cases reported every day and incidences getting more gruesome each time, evidently a thorough and firmer approach needs to be in place. Reports say that South African police documented more than 64,000 rapes last year.
Zuma said that police have been successful in prosecuting rape – in the last financial year, he said, they achieved nearly 370 life sentences and had conviction rates around 70 percent.
The war has to start at home, schools and every other department. National organisations then have to intervene, the nation as a whole, regardless of colour, tribe, and race. South Africa is one nation and the war is for a worthy end. The future is in the hands of South Africans. The fight against rapists should start immediately.